100 Newbie Hurdles – Part 3 – Latency Trouble

This is one of those topics that you need to understand. To be honest, most of the stuff in this series will be conceptual, which will help you to apply them when situations arise. Instead of giving you specific solutions, making you understand would be the best way, because when you understand you can apply your mind and solve things in any DAW. Although I would try to give you examples of how to do it specifically in some DAW.


Latency is the time difference between the input you give such as an Audio Signal or a Key Press on the keyboard, and the response to your input that your Musical Setup provides.

For Example,

  1. You are recording your vocals and the ‘monitor’ switch is on, so you get a feed back of your voice in your headphones. If there is a 1 second delay between the moment you utter a word and the time it is played back to your headphones, then this is the Latency issue we are talking about. Or
  1. You are playing a VST instrument, and there is a time difference between the moment you hit a note on the keyboard and the sound being produced by the DAW. This is latency too.

In any case the result is pretty annoying and it needs to be solved.

In situations where a computer’s own sound card is used, latency is very common. Unless your sound card is really powerful. This doesn’t mean that there are no latency issues when you use an Audio Interface. Just that it is not that common.

Anyway, so you are having latency issues although you are using your Audio Interface. The fix usually lies in either the Audio Interface preferences or the DAW preferences or both.

  1. Open the properties of your Audio Interface. I have a screenshot of the properties of my Audio Interface. I switched to the Latency Tab. This is where you get to tweak. Shown below is a scale of the amount of data the Audio Interface collects before sending it to the Computer. Lower the amount lesser the latency. But it is suggested by many people that you don’t go below 128.

Need Explanation?

Ok, You don’t get how lowering this can reduce the latency. Imagine this situation. There is a guy packing boxes and there is another loading them into a truck. If the first guy has a huge box. It would take a long time for him to pack this box and pass it on to the next guy right.? But what if he had small boxes. He would pass on more boxes every hour or minute or what ever unit of time you are considering. Although end of the day we would complete the work in the same time. What really matters for us is whether there is a continuous flow of boxes.

That’s the case with the Audio Interface too. We need real time processing. A continuous supply of Audio Data.

  1. The second way would be to tweak some preferences in your DAW. Every DAW will come with preferences to compensate for Latency that cannot be avoided. Shown below is a screen shot of the preferences.

Change the ‘Driver Error Compensation’ to reduce latency. Although I believe that the first solution will solve the problem for sure. This would be a supplementary method to solve things.

You can also use the Test Tone in Ableton to check if you would have Latency. Click the Button where is says ‘Off’ next to ‘Test Tone’. This will switch on the Test Tone which is one of those continuous single frequency sine wave sounds. If there is a problem with your latency, then this tone will sound distorted with noise. Simple enough?. Yes!

If you have any questions, comment here or drop a mail at johananj@yahoo.com and I’ll be happy to reply.

Thanks for Reading. Make some MUSIC yo’all!!


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